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Wednesday, Oct 23rd

'Physical addresses of the future to reside in the cloud' - Ukowapi

'Physical addresses of the future to reside in the cloud' - Ukowapi.

Physical address systems across most parts of Africa are non-existent and present a major obstacle to delivery services including ecommerce. Ukowapi (Swahili for 'where are you?') a company which aims to tackle this issue, was recently launched in Nairobi.

Steve Odhiambo, the founder and chief executive officer of the German based company said that Africa needs a location service that will give everyone a dynamic virtual address.

"It started about two and a half years ago when I tried sending a book to my sister from Germany to Kenya. At that time my mom had not paid her post office box and so she was denied access to her box. I couldn't send this book," Odhiambo narrated.

"This got me thinking, if my family has this problem, then how many other families have the same problem?"

While studying in Germany, Odhiambo's research into this issue revealed the impact the lack of an address system has on the continent in terms of business and social structure.

Odhiambo was convinced and quit his studies to pursue this dream and Ukowapi was born in 2015.

But Odhiambo wanted to have something much more than mapping physical location. He developed an application that would enable users to secure virtual addresses hosted on the cloud.

In 2014, Odhiambo entered the European Satellite Navigation Competition and was selected as the second place winner. This lead to the company's funding of 100,000 Euros from the European Space Agency and is now part of its business incubation centre in Germany.

The application uses GPS to pinpoint a user's location. The user can then add more information about their location such as street, building name and floor.

The application can also store countless addresses from one user, which can be safely shared with businesses and ecommerce entities. Businesses can also secure their addresses system on the platform which can be shared with potential clients.

Ukowapi is not the only company that looks to solve Africa's address dilemma.

OkHi is a Kenyan based company that is also piloting a similar idea. In Ghana, Ananse Companion is helping users send directions to places through their mobile phone.

All these resonate with Odhiambo's motto that, "The address of the future shall live in the cloud."

Ukowapi and OkHI are currently undergoing testing and according to Odhiambo Ukowapi will be ready to publicly launch in two or three months.

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